[env-trinity] Redding.com Editorial: Ich gone, for now

Tom Stokely tstokely at att.net
Fri Oct 2 08:43:40 PDT 2015


Editorial: Ich gone, for now
6:00 PM, Sep 30, 2015editorials
Back in 2002 we learned a valuable and painful lesson when a tiny single-cell parasite nicknamed “Ebola of the Klamath salmon” wiped out an estimate 35,000 Chinook salmon during their fall run in the Trinity River.It was a deadly blow to the already threatened salmon population.So when Ichthyophthrirus multifiliis, commonly known as “ich,” showed up again on the lower Klamath River last fall concerns ran high. The organism thrives in warm, low-flowing waters, the conditions found in many North State waterways during this persistent drought.The fish die-offs began and in an effort to cool the waters and raise water levels, officials ordered increased releases from Lewiston Dam on the Trinity River. It should have worked, but it didn’t have much impact. By midsummer at least 25 percent of the fish surveyed on the lower Klamath were infected with the deadly parasite, says senior fisheries biologist Mike Belchik of the Yurok tribe.The tribe has a long history with the Klamath and its fish population and is committed to preserving what’s left of the once plentiful salmon runs.But not everybody agrees that saving the salmon, already threatened by terrible conditions on other North State rivers, is a viable plan.Rep. Doug LaMalfa is fighting efforts to stop ich with more water. The Republican from Richvale has introduced an amendment to a federal appropriations bill that would forbid increasing river flows to save the fish.Fortunately, that law hasn’t been approved. Between August and September almost 51,000 acre-feet of water was released from Lewiston Dam on the Trinity River and from there to the Klamath.And this time it apparently worked just as it was supposed to, washing away the ich and cooling the water enough to boost the fishes’ immune systems.Belchik says a survey he and his crew conducted last week at Tectah Creek on the lower Klamath found only two infected fish, and those illnesses were minor.Belchik and water authorities have kept a close and constant watch on the fish. He called the early infections an “early warning” for another catastrophic fish kill in this fall’s run, which, if unheeded, could have led to another catastrophe.Just how many major die-offs could the species survive? Nobody’s sure, but we’d certainly not like to find out.No one has yet developed a permanent plan that would set the standards for future releases and establish the triggers that would cue increased flows.In normal years water negotiations are tricky enough, but the drought has complicated the situation as Southern California water districts and purveyors vie with tribes and North State stakeholders for every available drop.The bottom line is the question of whether water is best used to support the fish or agriculture.We in the North State seem torn over the priorities. But here in Shasta County salmon are more than an entrée on today’s menu. The fish are a huge tourist draw, every bit as important to the local economy as are the thirsty orchards and fields in the southland.Meanwhile, plans continue for ways to save salmon populations decimated by construction of Shasta Dam and those in trouble simply as a result of the drought. As global warming continues and we adapt to living with less water, we must keep in mind protections for the fish endangered primarily by changes we have wrought. And keep an eye on ich.

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://www2.dcn.org/pipermail/env-trinity/attachments/20151002/9ac6717b/attachment.html>

More information about the env-trinity mailing list